FTN English Lab- Difference Between British English And American English – Part 1

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With Amara Thoronka

British English and American English are the two standard English recognized globally. British English is the one spoken in the United Kingdom (England, Scotland and Wales); while American English is of the United States.

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In English exams, students are permitted to use any of the two, but they should be consistent. For example, mechanical accuracy [an assessment component in making English essays] frowns at the intermittent use of both versions of English in writing letters, essays and other forms of continuous writing.

Are there differences between the two? Of course, there are. The are different in spelling, vocabulary, grammar and accent.

This series (Part 1) shows the difference in spelling. Other categories of difference will be featured in other series.

Part 1: Spelling

  1. American English drops “U” in the following spellings:
British English:  favour, behaviour, saviour, flavour, colour, clamour, honour, endeavour, glamour, harbour, humour, labour, neighbour, rigour, rumour, splendour, tumour, odour, vigour etc

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American English:  favor, behavior, savior, color, clamor, honor, endeavor, glamor, harbor, humor, labor, neighbor, rigor, rumor, splendor, tumor, odor, vigor, etc

b.      British English uses “S” while American English use “Z” in the following spellings:

British English:  analyse, organise, realise, civilise, criticise, specialise, generalise, hospitalise, advertise, customise, etc. Same for organisation, realisation, civilisation, specialisation, etc.

American English:  analyze, organize, realize, civilize, criticize, specialize, generalize, hospitalize, etc. Same for organization, realization, civilization, specialization, etc

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c.       British English uses “TRE” while American English uses “TER” in the following spellings:

British English: centre, litre, metre, theatre, kilometre, etc

American: center, liter, meter, theater, kilometer, etc

d.      In British English the consonant “L” is doubled to form the participles and past tense of certain verbs, while the American English only use one “L”

British English: travelling, travelled/ cancelling, cancelled/ modelling, modelled, etc

American English: traveling, traveled/ canceling, canceled/ modeling, modeled, etc

e.       Carefully study the other set of difference in spelling below:

British English: cheque, programme, analogue, catalogue, dialogue, jewellery, kerb, plough, pyjamas, speciality, tyre, manoeuvre, paediatric, defence, licence, pretence, etc

American English: check, program, analog, catalog, dialog, jewelry, curb, plow, pajamas, specialty, maneuver, pediatric, defense, license, pretense, etc


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